China has become the world’s leading importer of perishable commodities, with trade volumes increasing 40 per cent this year, compared with 2019. This was the upshot of the Cool Logistics Global conference in October, thereby setting the scene for Cool Logistics Asia’s first online edition.
Reefer shipping has become the life-blood of intercontinental fresh produce trade, not just from Latin America, but also South Africa and Europe.
Whilst conventional shipping witnessed a come back in 2020, the underlying trend is that reefer container operations continue to rule the waves.
In fact, 2020 has turned out to be an excellent year for the reefer container sector, Bharadwaj Bhuyan from the Japanese shipping line ONE will say in his presentation at Cool Logistics Asia (CLAS) on 18 November.
The main driver has been China’s demand for pork. Yet, freight rates have reached a point when this is beginning to hurt fresh produce shippers. Reefer box rates of US$6,000-US$8,000 have not been uncommon, according to Frank Ganse of Kuehne + Nagel.
One of the key questions to be raised at CLAS this year is whether there will be enough reefer containers for everyone next year, and how might this affect overall logistics costs?
Could there be a re-run of last February, when reefer boxes got snarled up in Chinese ports, sending shivers through global perishable supply chains? As the produce trade will remember, this contributed to severe shortages in the Southern Hemisphere.
Given that digitisation is proving to be the real winner in the battle with Covid-19, it is not surprising that André Simha, global chief digital and information officer of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), has chosen Cool Logistics to give the keynote presentation this year. His topic will be how to move refrigerated cargo in the digital age.
As if in a special twist of fate, Thue Barfod, global head of seafood at Maersk, based in Hong Kong, will give a presentation on the other reefer success story – protein.
All too often seen as playing second fiddle to pork, seafood has been a key driver behind the recent reefer success in Asia and must be seen as one the commodities underpinning the whole rationale of reefer containerisation.
The CLAS programme also features presentations from Theodore Prince of Tiger Cool Express, who join the live seminar from the US, along with young entrepreneur Jack Fleming of UK-based Chill Chain.
Cool Logistics Asia begins at 3:00pm Singapore/China time each day at Asia Fruit Logistica ON (18-20 November).